Drifting Dragons - Reviews

Alt title: Kuutei Dragons

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Halex's avatar
May 14, 2020

I love sci-fi & fantasy, they are some of my favorite genres and one of the reasons is that they often have parallels to real-life issues. When we bring these issues into the sci-fi/fantasy world we can see them and explore them from a different perspective, it allows us to talk about them and visualize what could be, what could happen if we were in a situation like this. You can visualize your choices and explore new ideas. This is actually one of the reasons why I watch so much anime!

So in this regard, Drifting Dragons is essentially about whale hunting, the parallels are unmistakably from the looks of the dragons to the way they are hunted, to the tools they use for hunting, to the food they make. I read another review that basically says "that we shouldn't make a big deal about this because the dragons don't really exist and this is a fantasy world, therefore we shouldn't confuse fiction with reality", but I don't agree, this is not that simple. As I mention, shows like this often have comparables with reality and sure enough, just a quick search on Japanese whaling provides me with the following answers:

Japan whaling: Why commercial hunts have resumed despite outcry

Whaling in Japan

By killing whales, is Japan trying to revive a dying industry?

And I'm not alone with this kind of thinking:

Review: Netflix’s ‘Drifting Dragons’ romanticizes commercial whaling

Drifting Dragons: Whaling Ships And The Draker Tactics Of Netflix’s New Anime

Netflix's 'Drifting Dragons' anime series dogged by whaling parallels but fans love the spectacular visuals

So the story of Drifting Dragons tries to romanticize and even elicit the desire for dragon/whale hunting for no other reason than "they taste great and I want to eat them". In Episode 4 it tried to bring forth the controversy by asking the main protagonist if "Is it really that fun to hunt and kill dragons/whales?" but at the end of the episode no valid argument is given other than repeating "they taste great and I want to eat them". Maybe if they repeat that several times is enough to convince others that is the right answer, like in that episode? What do you think? So in this regard, the show fails at exploring the arguments from all parties and does not try to dig any deeper into the controversy, choosing instead to focus on the desire to eat dragons/whales.

At this point, I should disclose that I only watched up to Episode 4. Often I try to force myself to finish the anime before writing a review but in this case, I didn't want to support a cause I don't believe in. I tried to read other reviews about the show and nothing seems to suggest the show will go deeper into this controversy. Episode 4 was enough for me to convince me that they will not touch on the subject like that, and is just a one-sided argument in favor of the taste of dragons/whales. If anyone knows different please let me know in the comments.

In the end, the story seems to me just like propaganda for whale hunting. Is it a coincidence that the theme of this show coincides with Japan's resumed commercial whaling? What do you think? But where it fails to elicit the desire in me to hunt, kill, and eat whales; it at least succeeds at bringing attention to this issue.

Despite being 3d, the animation of the show is superb, they finally starting to fix the issues with facial expressions, now you can clearly see emotions with more natural movements, they are not perfect yet, but they are a leap forward in the right direction. But no matter how pretty it is, I cannot avert my eyes to the theme it has and what is trying to promote.

The music, sound effects, and the dub are ok.

At Episode 4 all characters were single-minded, with the main protagonist being obsessed with killing & eating. I'm not sure if they'll be any character development beyond that, but I don't think so as the show is mostly a slice in the everyday lives of whale/dragon hunters.

Overall, if you like slice-of-life and you don't mind the theme of this show, it does have good visuals and is entertaining, but average at best. There are better shows out there about hunting and eating, like Golden Kamuy, who is set at a time where that was the norm in order to survive and contains several references to history and an intriguing story.

2/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
2/10 characters
4/10 overall
Rascal's avatar
Mar 21, 2020

Hunting in The Clear Blue

Every now and then an anime will come along that will just completely pass everyone by, no matter how impressive it is. And I can definitely say that Drifting Dragons may just be one of the most underrated anime of all time. It at least is that for this current year. This anime takes great inspiration from Monster Hunter and Guns of Icarus, bringing a fresh, interesting Fantasy world to the table that just feels adventurous by nature, which is rare to come by in anime.

The Worldbuilding is what contributes a lot to the score I'm giving it. This is a world where Drakers earn money by hunting huge, incredible creatures on the skies. They live in the sky on these giant flying machines, day in and day out tracking down strange beasts, that have an incredible variety and abundance. The entire economy is based around trade between cities on islands above the clouds, reminicent of Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

In this world, Drakers are like seafarers, living in big blimps. And I don't know about you but it's just an awesome concept in general to me. This anime plays into it greatly by being one of the most beautiful at every turn. They never shy away from focusing on the scale of the world, and the Dragons, and these ships. Everything in this anime is huge and beautiful. Every new Dragon introduced is just a sight to behold.

The Animation and Sound help a lot with this. The Animation displayed is some of the best CGI anime I've seen come out of the medium, if not the best ever. They make such great use of so many effects which are best conveyed with CGI, such as the dragon pictured above, having enough detail to look magnificent from a distance like that, and having a natural flow and motion to it. It feels huge, even next to the large airships, and the textures are great. They're just beautiful. No wonder the characters want to cook em all up and stick them on a nice crispy kebab!

Some of the character animation is out of the ordinary for CGI, characters looking full of life instead of the usual stiffness, with a lot of free expression.

So hard to not look at the camera

The soundtrack is magical, adding a lot to the fantasy world setting, always amplifying the terrific atmosphere.

The Story is more episodic, following our main team of Drakers as they hunt multiple different dragons, usually a different one every episode, which also will focus on a different character. But the pacing never stops being dynamic. Some episodes will feel more like a slice of life, where a small dragon is wreaking slight havoc onboard the ship, while others will be more epic in scale, like the team fighting Pirate drakers, or hunting a massive dragon in a large storm.

Have I mentioned how beautiful this show is? The backgrounds are some of the best I've seen from anime period.

All of these different episodes always serve to build up the world and characters more, teaching us through example what a day in the life of a Draker is like in such a fantastical reality. 

The Characters are actually no slouch either, though the focus is more on the world and visual spectacle. The main focus of the anime is more of a Cooking theme, with the main character Mika providing a passionate voice to get the viewer just as excited about eating dragon meat as he is. There are entire scenes dedicated to explaining how to prepare certain dishes and just making it look so delicious, you'll find yourself wanting to eat Dragon meat too.

Jiro, Takita, and Vanabelle are also focal characters that develop a lot. Jiro is my personal favorite, a very relatable and realistic character that progresses a lot throughout the show. It's like watching him grow up in a few places. In this kind of show, I was surprised to see such a down to earth take on relatable issues, and how full of personality the characters are. It's not always that you get a show like this, that has a real sense of truth to it. How people behave in real life... the sense of comraderie coworkers that work to survive would share, the feel of it is all there. The dialogue is great, it never feels awkward or out of place, like something written by robots either.

Everything in this anime is super full of life and beautiful.

Now, the main argument against this anime is that the Drakers are like Whalers, which is a bad thing. Let me put this argument to rest. It is fiction. Dragons are not Whales. This world is a fantasy world, and it's all fiction. Dragon's are not even real. There's no need to crusade for the injustices against fictional creatures that are being hunted in an anarchic fantasy world.

If you can get past that one aspect, this anime has a lot to offer.

9/10

8/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
9/10 overall
Rbastid's avatar
Oct 2, 2020

I only wish I was a dragon, so these hunters would have killed me and put me out of my misery during episode one.

Story - 1/10

Our show follows a ship of dragon hunters, or drakers, as they fly around the sky killing dragons for profit, or in the case of one annoying character “So he can taste them.” That’s the story.

You could possibly make the case for a story being hidden in there about two younger members trying to learn what it means to become a draker, but most of that is hidden way in the back and mostly only talked about in passing, until we reach the end and learn that what it means to be a draker is essentially the same as just being an A-hole.

This show really has one of the strangest reoccurring ideas I can remember seeing in any TV series, movie or book. They keep repeatedly making the characters question what they’re doing, asking themselves if it’s really morally okay to kill these great creatures, and then three seconds later the character will just turn and start trying to jam a lance through a dragon’s head or shoot rockets at it. Only once did a character kill a dragon only out of mercy, but then later on she declared to its baby, who she was caring for, “I’ll be back to kill you because that’s what I’m supposed to do.” What in the hell is wrong with this worthless series?

Even some of the worst shows at least have the idea of what their end game is, maybe they don’t reach it, maybe they rush the story, or maybe they even bungle it up completely, but at least there is something there to look forward to. Drifting Dragons had absolutely no reason to be made, outside of trying to glorify killing endangered species.

Animation - 3/10

They really out did themselves with this anime, going above and beyond when it comes to how to make a series look completely awful. They took the ugly character designs of “Freedom,” added very flat, almost cell shaded, animation, and then added a clunkiness unrivaled by even some of the worst CGI series. Instead of making the dragons interesting looking they often just made them neon and rotoscoped, so they didn’t fit in with any of the scenes.

The towns and ships were decent looking, but pretty much copied from every series that had this same theme, and even then they were all ruined by CGI’s depth issues.

Sound - 6/10

The opening theme for this show might be the only positive aspect of the show I can see. It was catchy, well performed, and deserved better than this terrible show. The closing wasn’t bad, but I couldn’t say it was more than okay. The English voice cast was filled with many names you’d know, but they all felt like they were just there for a paycheck, never really acting out their character, more just reading the words on the script.

Characters - 2/10

The characters ranged from completely boring and standard, to outright awful. In the first group there was the many crew members who were just there to throw a line or make a joke, which were all fine. Then there were the pair of younger hunters, Takita who was the ditz who could be someone one day, and Giraud the over confident boy who looks to the older drakers for inspiration, which essentially makes him act reckless and dumb. The real main character of the show, and a completely trash one at that was Mika, the head draker who will do anything all because he wants to see what dragons taste like, which he repeats ad-nauseam throughout the show, because this was a one joke series.

Overall - 1/10

This was one of those shows where I really wished I was someone who was willing to drop a series midway, as from episode one to episode twelve there was absolutely nothing that went on. There was no character growth, and when you thought there’d be the character would just fall back into their old ways because “thats what drakers do.” 

Bad characters, an unoriginal and nonexistent story, comedy aimed at those who aren’t sure what comedy is, and propaganda laced throughout made this easily one of the worst things I’ve sat through.

Positive Reasons for Score:

 * The music was pretty good.

Negative Reasons for Score:

 * Characters that are just terrible people, but who the writers made thinking they had great qualities to them.

 * No real plot outside of them going out hunting.

 * Animation that wouldn’t pass a first year college class.

Ways to make the show better:

 * Kill Mika within the first twenty seconds of the show starting.

 * Have some attempt at making an actual story.

 * Don’t be apologist for the whaling industry.

1/10 story
3/10 animation
6/10 sound
2/10 characters
1/10 overall
eelge's avatar
Feb 12, 2020

**DISCLAIMER** I HAVE NOT READ THE MANGA - THIS IS BASED ON THE ANIME ENTIRELY

The best way to describe Kuutei Dragons is 'different'. Calming yet has enough action to keep you interested. I was hesitant before watching the first episode, but the show managed to completely draw me in by the third one.

Story

The story follows the Crew of the a flying vessel called the Quin Zaza. They make a living through hunting and selling dragons, which are a delicacy in the world the story is set in. The series is kind of episodic. but each episode is still somewhat related to the others. What this anime manages to do really well, is combine different themes without making it seem too forced. You can feel the serenity of the world above the coulds, follow the action packed dragon hunting scenes and even get the urge to eat some nice food while watching them cook dragon meat. - 7/10

Animation

This anime is made using CG animation. While it might feel a bit weird at first, the realistic nature of CG really emphasizes the beauty of the environment high up in the sky and manages to make each dragon, the Crew encounters, look unique and stunning. The character design is good but CG animation makes them look a bit rough. - 7/10

Characters

Character development is stong with this one. The personality of the characters progresses and changes through the series, but it does so in a very subtle way across all 12 episodes. so you only notice it after finishing the series. You can feel some characters becoming more mature while others don't seem to change as much but they leave you with a  cozy feeling, as if they're your own Crew or group of friends. The obvious differences in the personalities of the Crewmembers make the series very dynamic and also showcase how every member is needed for their own unique set of skills. The anime doesn't really explore any of the characters' backstories which would have been a nice tough in my opinion. - 7/10

7/10 story
7/10 animation
?/10 sound
7/10 characters
7/10 overall
takenratbatrat's avatar
Dec 11, 2020

its a good anime with a decent stories and good animation

7/10 story
8/10 animation
10/10 sound
9/10 characters
8/10 overall
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